There’s something that’s quite disarmingly charming about the self-titled EP from London indie/emo band Arkless. The clean, angular melodies and restless nature of the songs gives them an instant appeal, topped off with sung-spoken vocals that are all the more powerful for how understated they are. There’s nothing here that attempts to overwhelm the listener; it’s very much a record to get swept up in, carried along by the melodies and energy that Arkless put across in an almost effortless manner.
There’s no denying the 90’s indie and emo influences throughout, and Arkless make no attempt to hide them. Guitar and bass lines weave in to and between one another with a motion that is restless and energetic even at its most sedate, as on penultimate track “Age”. It’s held together by solid drumming that stops the songs drifting apart, no matter how many different melodies are being explored at once by the rest of the band. On top of it all are the sung-spoken vocals, which give the record a sense of intimacy and honesty, with every smart lyric coming through clearly; though it is slightly ironic that an album so warm and pleasant contains the line “I’m better with vitriol” on opener “Corner”, though even then the anarcho-punk inspired lyrics strive for positivity and inspiration.
It’s that sense of rising above hardship and negativity which so endears Arkless to me. As enjoyable as the record is on a purely musical level, it’s that feeling of intent and quiet catharsis which keeps me coming back to it. I can’t quite shake the feeling that this is music best suited to lazy summer days though, and listening to it on cold winter evenings in England is maybe not the best environment to fully appreciate it. But that I can still enjoy Arkless so much should say a lot, and shows that they have a lot to add to the already fertile UK emo scene.
Arkless can be streamed, downloaded via Bandcamp, and ordered on 12″ vinyl (black, or white with black splatter) via Ruined Smile Bandcamp, Dingleberry Records, strictly no capital letters, and Barely Regal.